The U.S. announced new COVID-19 testing requirements Wednesday for all travellers from China, joining other nations that have imposed restrictions because of a surge of infections.
Beginning Jan. 5, all travellers to the U.S. from China will be required to take a COVID-19 test no more than two days before travel and provide a negative test before boarding their flight. The testing applies to anyone two years and older.
Canada has not imposed any new testing requirements for people coming from China.
Ellen Kennedy, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, said Canada is monitoring COVID-19 case numbers and following the advice of public health officials.
“As of now, travellers are not required to provide a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada, however we continue to monitor the situation and keep Canadians safe,” Kennedy said in an email to CBC News.
Japan, India among those requiring testing
In an abrupt change of policy, China this month began dismantling the world’s strictest COVID-19 regime of lockdowns and extensive testing, putting its battered economy on course for a complete reopening next year.
The lifting of restrictions, following widespread protests against them, means COVID-19 is spreading largely unchecked and could be infecting millions of people a day, according to some international health experts.
Beijing has faced international criticism that its official COVID-19 data and its tally of deaths are inconsistent with the scale of its outbreak. International modelling groups have predicted China could experience two million deaths or more.
Other countries have taken similar steps in an effort to keep infections from spreading beyond China’s borders. Japan will require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travellers from China, and Malaysia announced new tracking and surveillance measures. India, South Korea and Taiwan are requiring virus tests for visitors from China.
Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 22, is usually China’s busiest travel season, and China announced Tuesday it will resume issuing passports for tourism for the first time since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The U.S. action is a return to requirements for some international travellers. The Biden administration lifted the last of such mandates in June. At that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to recommend that people boarding flights to the U.S. get tested close to departure time and not travel if they are sick.
Early in the pandemic, the U.S. barred entry to foreigners travelling from China, weeks after the virus first emerged there three years ago. Americans were allowed to return home and flights from China were funneled to selected airports where passengers were screened for illness.
But the virus already was spreading in the U.S. among people with no travel history.